NewsNation   |  May 20, 2013

Obama to deliver speech on counterterrorism policy

President Barack Obama is expected to address such issues like the drone program, the U.S. prison program at Guantanamo Bay and possibly even the Justice Department’s seizure of the telephone records of Associated Press journalists. A NewsNation panel discusses.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> president obama will address two major counterterrorism issues facing his administration in a speech set for thursday. the president is expected to detail the legal justification for using drones as the new push -- as well as focus on a new push to shut down guantanamo bay where now more than 100 detainees are on a hunger strike . joining us now is vince warren, the center for constitutional rights which represents guantanamo prisoners and also democratic strategist chris , and the deputy national editor. thank you all for joining us. i would like to start out with you first, the daily beast is reporting that according to three administration sources, the president's sudden rhetorical plunge to guantanamo bay reflects a highly personal decision, one born by both frustration and had his team and a measure of personal regret about his failure to solve the problem. so in a sense they're saying that sources tell them it's personal for the president and he wants back at it, as he said for personal reasons based on a promise and pledge that he made while campaigning.

>> well, i think the president made a major clear commitment that he would close guantanamo . it becomes so political so fast and the republicans will pounce on this and any suggestion that you will close guantanamo putting aside that it doesn't seem to be working as it is, let alone the cost. you can't move them -- these suspects. you can't move them back to the united states . you can't put them in federal facilities. what are you supposed to do? so it will be a tough line for him to walk in order to avoid the political uproar that the republicans will bring. i'm not sure he can avoid that, to be honest.

>> to chris ' point, when the president re-affirmed that he wanted to close guantanamo bay . he made the point in his words guantanamo is not necessary, doesn't keep us safe. it is expensive, it is inefficient and he went on talking about it being a recruit want for the extremists and it not being efficient would be a play to conservatives especially those who say the focus is budget and the deficit here and the millions being spent to keep this facility open and afloat.

>> there are lots of other important arguments that he's made in the past and can make again about the effectiveness of guantanamo , about the fact that suspects can be tried in federal court , and nothing has changed the basic politics of this. i think chris is right. it's very difficult to see what republicans have yet been won over in recent years and he's had a harder time more recently with his agenda on capitol hill and the logistical hurdles of what with to actually do changes. his personal commitment is important, but he was committed from day one. it was one of his first executive orders . beyond his passion, it's hard to say what's different as with everything on his agenda, he has the potential to make it work this tim.

>> one thing that is different now, you have 100 of 166 on a hunger strike and it's been noted if one of those individuals dies and then another, is there greater complexity thrusted on this? so parts of it have changed and certainly if people can't find themselves to look at the human nature part of this back to the budget. we've talked more about the fiscal challenges now than ever before led by the republicans. so you do have somewhat of a nuance dynamic that's changed.

>> and it's an interesting cabinet by the president to see if the budget can trump what is described as national security concerns. i think the moral case for closing guantanamo bay by the administration and the president personally. obviously, if suspects do die from hunger strikes all of the time, although they're force fed when they don't eat, so coming on a hunger strike does cost. so the moral case he's made has not been about the national security . the prisoners that leave there have it go somewhere, and thoot been even t -- if you shut down the facility what to dou do? you transfer some and meef moving some intelligently to u.s. prips and the argument of the reality hits you personally. having represented there, are you hopeful or what do you hope to frommed from the president. ? this is a human rights violation and it's true, but the policies haven't changed and the president has changed.

>> changed on an change flood his commitment and democrat it is and maybe even who are incertain as to shut down and do from get mow.

>> so with we. from this open in 24 took on compelling rhetoric, he will move issues. number one, the president himself has issued a ban on transfers to yemen. that's the largest groupaible to be transferred safely and he can remove that immediately without any help, without any congressional help. he can appoint team start and can get the pentagon to issue waivers that everyone can be released can be released immediately.

>> the daily beast article, john kelley , the general overseeing gan tan no bay made this stunning admission on march 20th when we heard the president saying he's ready to go at it again. basically according to the reports these detain ease were devastated when president obama backed off at least their perception of closing the facility and that prompted the detainees to go on this hurker strike. because for some reason the perhaps they would be in prison, but not guantanamo bay .

>> the folks are absolutely devastated. that's exactly why they've gone on this hunger strike and after 11 years of expecting that the government was going do something they did the only thing left for them is to to starve their own booedes to get attention and to move this process forward.

>> they're right to expect president obama to do this. can take steps on his own and the most important pieces, and not a political partisan situation.

>> in reality, do you look at it that most americans look at it as a human rights issue? i think when you look at the 166, yes, some of those men are there without evidence or neighbors or saying that this individual was linked to al qaeda with no prof at all, but there are some people when say there might be some, and it's harder for, if not freeing them then what?

>> the question about highway to think this prsh lem. that unanimously, all branches of government had said do not pose a danger of national security . they're here, not being released and no kriel. you don't see protests and or widespread, and not that you would think. you hear online social media demanding that those who have no evidence against them happened how fumental fairness and i don't think anybody wo are fact all industriment. you're either getting release order going to trial and the president has the release options in his hasheds.

>> thank you very much.

>> ann, i appreciate you as well. we hope to talk to you on thursday at are after the speech.

>> still ahead, a half a billion that is where the